key lime pie Recipes

key lime pie

January, as far as I’m concerned, is a pretty mediocre month. The holiday party tinsel-and-bubbly frenzy of November and December is replaced with hibernation and Netflix binges. The charming first and second snowstorms pass and the ones that follow are met with more of a really? it’s snowing again? Squarely between Christmas and mid-Winter break, it’s too early in the season to be so weary of the cold, but here I am, counting down the days until the hi/bye gloves can literally come off.

butter into graham crumbs, sugar, salt
buttery graham crumbs

Fortunately, just when I’ve resigned myself to thinking it’s going to be as beige and bleak going forward as the paragraph above, January — as if implicitly understanding that it’s going to have to sell itself harder — presents us with a luminous ray of tropical sunshine packaged as citrus fruit. I become obsessed. This ridiculous thing I bought five years ago as everyone around me tut-tutted that it would never earn its keep is put into overdrive as we conduct methodical studies of the pros and cons of cara-cara vs. blood orange vs. pink grapefruit vs. tangerine juice. (Spoiler: they’re all amazing.) Citrus is as good as everything else about a biting cold sleeting day is bad.

a neatly-pressed-in crust

limes, not key
lazy lime juice
got a new zester and it really zests! (duh)
i love sweetened condensed milk so much

Predictably, it doesn’t take us long to graduate from wholesome pursuits such as freshly-squeezed juice and citrus-studded salads (such as these) and onto more urgent matters: pie. There is something about key lime pie that, to me, easily trumps lemon meringue or even the most buttery caramel blood orange tart and that thing is sweetened condensed milk, which is unquestionably the manna of the canned food aisle. Thick, creamy and halfway to dulce de leche, it protects you from the harshness of the lime juice without taking away any of its tart-fragrant charm. Add a salt-flecked buttery graham cracker crust and a raft of whipped cream on top — did I mention you can have this whole thing made in well under an hour? — and I only want to know why we don’t have this around more often. Or, as my friend Claire Zulkey said best, “I never know it’s what I wanted until I’m eating it.”

lime filling
filling into crust
just a little whipped cream
key lime pie

One year ago: Pear and Hazelnut Muffins
Two years ago: Gnocchi in Tomato Broth
Three years ago: Buckwheat Baby with Salted Caramel Syrup
Four years ago: Baked Potato Soup (with the works!)
Five years ago: Black Bean Soup with Toasted Cumin Seed Crema
Six years ago: Light Wheat Bread and Clementine Cake
Seven years ago: Chicken Caesar Salad
Eight years ago: Pancakes, Frisee Salad and English Muffins and Artichoke Ravioli with Tomatoes

And for the other side of the world:
Six Months Ago: Easiest Fridge Dill Pickles
1.5 Years Ago: One-Pan Farro with Tomatoes
2.5 Years Ago: Bacon Corn Hash
3.5 Years Ago: Raspberry Ricotta Scones
Plus, since it’s popsicle season where you are: Both last week’s Butterscotch Pudding and this week’s Key Lime Pie have popsicle equivalents in the archives. Make them and send sweltering thoughts our way, please.

Classic Key Lime Pie
Adapted somewhat liberally from the version at Joe’s Stone Crab in Miami, where I am not

Every key lime pie recipe agrees that a can of sweetened condensed milk is the king of ingredients. From there, they diverge. Some use more lime juice, some less. (I use 2/3 cup for a nicely tart filling; use only 1/2 cup if you’re more wary of the tartness of limes.) Some use more egg yolks, some use less. (I find I only need 3 for a good set and flavor, but you can go up to 5 if you’d like something extra-rich.) Not all insist that you whip your yolks until they’re pale and ribbony, but it makes for a lovely final texture and I think is worth it.

Most importantly, despite the name, you don’t need key limes to make this. I mean, if you can get them, please do. They’re wonderful. But I made this, as I often do, with regular grocery store Persian limes and it’s no less dreamy with them.

Crust
1 1/2 cups (155 grams) finely ground graham cracker crumbs (from about 10 crackers)
3 tablespoons (40 grams) granulated sugar
2 pinches sea salt
7 tablespoons (100 grams) unsalted butter, melted

Filling
1 1/2 tablespoons finely grated lime zest
3 large egg yolks (though extra-large would do you no harm here)
1 14-ounce (396-gram) can sweetened condensed milk
2/3 cup (155 ml) fresh lime juice (from about 1 dozen tiny key limes or 4 persian/regular limes)

To Finish
3/4 cup (175 ml) heavy whipping cream
1 to 2 tablespoons powdered or granulated sugar, to taste

Heat oven: To 350°F (176°C).

Make crust: Combine graham crumbs, sugar and salt in a medium bowl and stir until mixed. Add butter and stir until crumbs are evenly coated. Press crumbs into the bottom and up the sides of a standard 9-inch pie dish. I like to use the outer edge of a heavy measuring cup to press in neat, firm sides but nobody will be the wiser if you just use your fingertips. Bake crust until lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Set on cooling rack while you prepare filling. Leave oven on.

Make filling: Zest limes into the bottom of a medium bowl until you have 1 1/2 tablespoons. Beat zest and egg yolks with an electric mixer until pale and thick, about 5 minutes. Add sweetened condensed milk and beat until thickened again, about 3 minutes more. Squeeze zested limes until you have 2/3 cups juice. Whisk into yolk mixture until combined. Pour into graham crust and bake pie for another 10 minutes, until set but not browned on top at all. Let pie cool completely before adding topping — you can do this outside (thank you, January!) or even in your freezer (but don’t forget about it) to hasten the process, and your pie reward, along.

Make topping: In a medium bowl, beat cream and sugar until soft peaks are formed. Spread over top of chilled pie. Ideally, pie should be chilled at least another 2 to 3 hours with the cream on top so that it can fully set before you take a slice, but whether that happens is between you and your pie.

Key lime pie keeps in fridge for a week, though certainly not around here.

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309 comments on key lime pie

  1. Key lime pie is one of my favorites to eat and make! I usually follow the same recipe, but yours looks so much prettier. I’ll definitely be using it as inspiration for my next KLP!
    -E

  2. This is the recipe I’ve been waiting for!

    P.S. My boyfriend had you write me a super-sweet inscription in a copy of your cookbook as a holiday gift. It meant the world to me—thanks for being so good to your readers!

  3. Key lime pie might just be one of my dessert island desserts, and the more tart, the better. Sadly, my husband is allergic to dairy, which kills the sweetened condensed milk (aka manna from the gods). I’ve resigned myself to just ordering it at the beach. This is not helping my cravings.

  4. Daria

    Key lime pie – nom! I made it once with the tiny limes. They took forever to squeeze, so I was very protective of the final product. Maybe if I see some at the store I’ll try this recipe.

  5. Sara

    Oh man, it is citrus season and this looks like such a good idea. BTW, have you heard/seen about Amy Thielen’s rhubarb-lime icebox pie? It’s kind of this incredible hybrid love-child of key-lime and rhubarb custard pies, perfect for(next) spring:
    oh. man.

  6. Cammy

    I recently found a recipe that adds cream cheese to the filling. I think I’ll try that as the sweetened condensed milk filling has become cloyingly sweet! It also gives it a different texture and creaminess.

  7. Elizabeth

    Hi Deb! I cannot wait to make this – I can taste the key limes now…
    Question: do you think this would work dairy-free, or is that heresy? Would coconut cream work?

  8. I must say that one of my dreaded kitchen tasks is juicing citrus en masse… but for this recipe, I would gladly do so! By the way, the natural color of key lime pie is fabulous! It makes me sad for pies that have green food coloring added. :(

  9. I adore key lime pie. It makes me think of warmth and sunshine, even on dreary, miserable days. I agree, January is just the worst, but luckily we have yummy pies and citrus to get through the days until spring!!

  10. kathy

    One of the best cheesecakes I ever made was a Key Lime Cheesecake (recipe was in Bon Appetit or Gourmet) made with key lime juice that came in a bottle. I used a chocolate wafer crust and it looked gorgeous.

  11. Susan

    The first time I made Key Lime Pie, I bought the key limes and used my little wooden reamer to juice the 20 (20!) I needed. What a chore! Then I bought one of those brightly colored, enameled lemon/lime squeezers and used it for the key limes. It, too, was as much a chore. Thank goodness making the pie is easy, or it would be a deal breaker! Next time, Persian limes.

  12. hamletta

    Ugh, juicing key limes is the wooorrrst! The ones I got were the size of emaciated walnuts, so my reamer was useless; had to use a garlic press. Swore I’d never do that again and bought the bottled stuff. Nice to hear Persians work just as well so I can keep it fresh.

    Tried your Eagle Milk–free pumpkin pie and loved the lighter texture. I wonder if that would work with key lime, as well.

  13. Lesley

    I’ve tried to make this in the past, but I run into issues with the acidity in the juice curdling the dairy element (not making it bad, but just separating it – sometimes before the oven, sometimes during). Deb, do you have any recommendations regarding mixer speed, pre-mixing temperatures, etc. that might help keep everything like it’s supposed to be? thanks!

  14. Laurie

    JUST what today needed – thank you!

    And completely, unabashedly OT, because the quest has consumed my morning: any chance you’ll update on school lunches someday and how that Planetbox is working out for your family? Wondering about leaks …

  15. hamletta

    Val, I don’t think a meringue would work, because the filling is cold when you pour it, whereas lemon meringue pie filling is cooked on the stovetop and is akin to napalm when you add the topping. The heat from the filling helps bond the egg whites to the filling before you bake it.

  16. Crystal

    I am definitely making this ASAP. January is leaving me less than enthusiastic about 2015, I need a pick me up stat!
    About how much lime juice is required? I know you said 12 tiny limes, but those types of guidelines always leaves me somewhat confused, can you give me an approx. liquid measurement?
    Thanks!!

  17. Tim

    One quick tip in case others want it: I brown the butter and add some finely chopped pecans or walnuts to the crust. This is such an under-rated dessert…one of my favorites.

  18. Well, shit.

    Pretty sure my Saturday plans have changed, as of right now. So long, pizza and cookies. Hello, tapas and key lime pie!

    (Don’t ask. It will work bee-YOO-tifully!!)

    As ever and always: thanks, Deb.

    xx,
    Molly

  19. Eri

    If I made this with the Meyer lemons I found miraculously would it set well? Really don’t want to go outside to buy limes to make this and I already impulse bought the lemons.

  20. Laurie

    My dad’s birthday is next week; he died 6 years ago, and this time of year is always really sad for me. But this recipe made me smile–he LOVED key lime pie! I’m going to have to make this in his honor. :)

  21. SVF

    So, I never bake my graham cracker crusts. Why should I? And why, especially, would you bake pre-bake one, if it is just going back into the oven once it is filled? Is it a flavor thing? This pie may just kill my diabetic husband, but I might make it anyway, and hide it from him.

  22. megana

    Eri…I think that b/c Meyer lemons aren’t as tart, you might need to tool around with the recipe a bit so the pie isn’t too sweet. Sounds like a good idea, though.

  23. juliet

    Mmmm, lime and condensed milk are a match made in heaven. The lime popsicles are a firm favourite in our house, and although i have a couple of lemonade ones still in the freezer, i think i could ‘sacrifice’ myself to eat them, and then make the lime popsicles. We’ve been having an amazing summer, what better way to cool down than with one of your fabulous creations?!

  24. SallyO

    I LOVE key lime pie, but unfortunately it’s a little too much temptation for me. Instead I indulge occasionally in your absolutely genius key lime pie pops. This recipe however… ugh, don’t make me do it, Deb.

  25. Vicki

    Yum! and perfect because my husbands bday is coming up and this is his favorite! But I am wondering, can you half the recipe and make a small pie? or maybe make two little ones and freeze one? (the kiddos aren’t a fan of the tartness) and if I’m going to do most of the eating it would be great if it were small!

  26. Jenn

    My dad (who passed away in 99) used to make his famous “Lemon Ice Box Pie,” which had these same exact ingredients (but lemon instead of lime). I love key lime, but I have to suggest that you also try with lemon, when you want a variation. It was my favorite growing up, always my choice instead of birthday cake…

  27. Laurie

    I made almost the exact same pie last week for my daughter’s birthday, which is the day before mine, so it was my birthday dessert, too. I made your homemade graham crackers for the crust. Good thing I had people with whom to share and who would have noticed if the pie went missing the next morning.

  28. Nancy

    Deb, have you ever tried avocado pie? I think of it as the lazy man’s key lime pie since it is literally ready in minutes, no baking and you don’t even have to wait for it to chill! 2 avocados, 1/2 cup fresh lime juice, and a 5 oz can of sweetened condensed milk pureed in a blender and poured into your favorite crust. It is the most lovely shade of green that persists way longer than you would expect, must be all the sugar!

  29. Amanda

    I showed this to my husband, whose birthday is Saturday. He loves key lime pie. He asked “can tequila be added to it”? Not sure if it’s in jest, but thought I’d throw the question out there anyway!

  30. Amy

    One of my favorites, too. I love it with a shortbread crust. I once found a Keebler ready made crust at the grocery while vacationing in Florida. I’ve never seen it again, but who cares? It’s easy enough to make. Use a little less butter though because there’s so much more butter in shortbread than in graham crackers.

  31. deb

    Re, making a meringue topping from the leftover eggs whites — I think this should work just fine, but follow the meringue-ing instructions from a good lemon meringue pie recipe. If I’m remembering correctly, you’ll want to add the meringue when the filling is warm from the oven then return it for browning.

    Vicki — I’d think so. Do you have a 4 or 5-inch pie plate?

    Crystal — WHOOPS. Meant to also list 2/3 cup lime juice. Now edited. However, I remembered why I did it this way: I didn’t want anyone to squeeze the juice before zesting the limes — it just makes the process incredibly annoying. I’ll try to add that in an uncluttered way.

    Christina — I’m very spoiled in the grocery department in my neighborhood, especially now that I have a Westside Market (swoon) very close as well. I think they had four different brands of SCM.

    SVF — I haven’t much in the past either, but now I will. I really was impressed by the way this one came together, it felt more solid and smelled wonderful. I’m pretty sure these will be my go-to graham crust proportions going forward. (Also, I found a box of preground graham crumbs! Totally made my day to save a step.)

    Eri — You could, it would definitely be sweeter. Maybe bump it up to 3/4 cup lemon juice.

    Kinjal — I was thinking of making these as bars! Great minds. I have a good set on mine, on the soft side but totally clean cuts in the end. I think you could make it even more firm by adding another egg yolk or two, OR by using two whole eggs instead of 4 yolks. The whites will add extra sturdiness.

    Mya — Ha! Because I wrote the wrong place down. It is indeed adapted from the one at Joe’s Stone Crab. :) Now fixed. Saveur has a version of their recipe online, but I used a different crust and slightly different proportions.

    Lesley — I’ve never had this problem before with SCM. With milk or even cream, yes, but I’ve never experienced SCM curdling. You had this issue with a pie filling like this?

    Juicing limes — A.k.a. “Find out where your paper cuts are!”

    Shaina — Hooray! I’m glad you liked the gift.

  32. The first (and only) key lime pie I’ve made helped me get through a particularly cold week in January a few years back, but now that I live in the land of Midwest polar vortexes, I’m glad to have your recipe to try out, since I think I’m going to need an even better pie. It’s funny how a chilled pie can be so uplifting on a chilly day, isn’t it?

  33. Deanna

    Key Lime Pie has long been the bane of my existence. I love it so much, so of course it is the one thing that I have never been able to successfully make. I’ve tried Ina’s frozen version (how could a frozen one never set? I don’t know and I’m still annoyed by it.) I have a ton of limes to use, so hopefully this recipe breaks the curse of pies that refuse to set.

  34. Joe

    Loooooooove key lime pie. Have you tried Ina Garten’s *frozen* key lime pie? I think it’s from the family style cook book but it’s insane on hot summer days.

  35. Anonyc

    I love Key Lime Pie, but because I am l-a-z-y, even for this simple type of recipe, I have always used Nellie & Joe’s Key West Lime juice and their recipe on the label (in my defense I often make my own crust). You can often find it in the lemon/lime juice section. Totally worthwhile shortcut.

  36. Sue

    Great recipe and I’ve made it numerous times with Persian limes. I must admit, my husband and I embrace the tartness of the limes and I use 3/4 plus 2 Tbsp lime juice. Devine!

  37. April

    Far be it from me to turn down key lime pie in any form, but after making it with a meringue top instead of whipped crème, I wouldn’t make it any other way. More work, but so worth it.

  38. Judith Krantz

    I went to college in Memphis, Tn. You could get Lemon Icebox Pie nearly anyplace that sold food. Exactly the same as Key Lime, except, of course, lemons instead of limes. Meringue usually topped it. My Mom was from the South, and used to make it all the time. BTW, electric juicers are fairly inexpensive and worth it.

  39. MFree

    as luck would have it i JUST made your homemade graham crackers which means I guess i have to use a few for this! done and done.

  40. Leah

    So, so good! I didn’t have graham crackers, but I did have a ton of good animal crackers (yes, I have a small child too), so I used those instead. I dropped the sugar to 1T, and it was fantastic. The salt in the crust was especially perfect.

  41. Rani

    Deb, any thoughts on what graham crackers may be in other countries?? We definitely don’t get them in Australia – is it sweet? Like the kind of biscuit you might use for a cheesecake crust? Or are they more like an English digestive biscuit?

  42. Charlotte in Toronto

    I’ve spent the last few weeks nursing a broken foot. I am making efforts to stay off of it, so I’ve had lots of time to devour your inspirations. I’ve only recently come across your site. Your pictures are glorious and your writing is fantastic. I have accumulated a big, fat list of your recipes that I intend to make once I’m back in the kitchen. I’m so looking forward to it. Thank you.

  43. Gretchen

    I am swooning! I have made a very similar pie with a saltine crust which gives you the salty/sweet/tart thing. Either way, this is happening again around here!

  44. David E

    Inspiring, can’t wait to try. BTW, a garlic press makes quick work of juicing cut key limes… No good for garlic, but great for tiny citrus.

  45. Dan

    This is very similar to a recipe I got from NPR nearly 35 years ago (4 egg yolks and with meringue), and I’ve loved it for all that time.

    Over the years I’ve also used Meyer’s Lemons in a variation but found that it didn’t set up well without some modifications: I ended up with 5 egg yolks and 1 TBSP of corn starch. BTW, A gingersnap crust makes a tasty change.

  46. Courtney

    Does anyone have any tips for making these into something fun like mini-pie bites (in mini-muffin pans)? Would love to take something like that in for my co-workers…

  47. Fun post that brought back memories! 60 years ago my parents went on a cruise to Cuba and a few other islands which departed from Miami. While in Miami my father had his first taste of Key Lime Pie and paid the chef the princely sum (at the time) of $5.00 for the recipe! It became a staple in our household and I’ve made many over the years.

    Our recipes are very similar except we use four egg yolks rather than three, and the whites are beaten stiff with 6 tsp. of sugar, 1/4 tsp. baking powder, and a 1/2 tsp. of vanilla to make the meringue which is poured over the filling and baked at 350 for 15 minutes. I’m feeling a need to make one now!

  48. Lacy O

    Love key lime pie! My brother and I make the crust with your pecan sandie cookies and it is INSANELY good. We also once made a three layer keylime cheese cake with the same cookies for the crust, a rich cheesecake layer, key lime curd layer on top of that, and a sour cream frosting on top. We waited till 3:00am for it to finally cool and eat, then ate the leftovers for breakfast. We still talk about that thing!

  49. Lacy O

    COURTNEY, my sister makes mini tarts in a mini muffin pan. make sure to use liners so they don’t stick and possibly try a stickier crust so it’s easier to form in the cups/ if not sticky enough add a teense for butter or use a short pastry crust instead if it won’t stick to the cups well enough.

  50. My husband caught the photo of this pie in my Bloglovin feed and now is begging for a key lime pie. You are now to blame for the 5 pounds we’re both gonna gain this week. lol

  51. Anneke

    Sounds perfect! How can I substitute the graham cracker crumbs over here in Germany where I cannot find graham crackers? And I cannot find sweetened condensed milk either. How much sugar would you add to a 14-ounce can unsweetened condensed milk? Thanks a lot!

  52. Keyscook

    As one of the true old Conchs ( real Keys natives from the ’40’s), I always love your recipes and most of the comments. This recipe is no exception but thought Icould clarify some questions people have. The Florida Keys didn’t have reliable electricity until around 1960. Most people cooked with propane stoves and had ice boxes for cooling and some had propane fridges. Hence, a real, true, Key Lime pie had no cream but a meringue crust. The great cooks were known by their Key Lime Pies, certain fish dishes, and other now- rare dishes that came over from the Bahamas with the early Keys residents. Crusts were standard crusts, made with flour and Crisco. ( no real butter could make it there and I never tasted real cream until I was 18. Standard recipe was 4 egg yolks, as the whites made those mile high meringues. Most milk was reconstituted or straight Carnation evap milk. EagleSCM was used for lots of dessert sauces and lime or sour orange pie. Lastly, remember that real Key Limes are YELLOW when ripe, VERY juicy, and larger than the hard, green Mexican limes sold as Key Limes. The taste is immediately discernible from a Persian lime. Don’t waste hours trying to squeeze those hard little green limes. Use plump, juicy limes like Deb shows and you’ll be happier, unless you have access to the real thing. Rember, too, that all limes vary in their tartness from one lime to the next. This is why you cant be too exact in your measurement but must taste as you go. If you use too much juice from limes which lack tartness, your pie won’t set up. Now go make a pie and enjoy!

  53. Keyscook

    ***Sorry, didn’t edit first. I meant to say that the true old Key Lime Pie recipe had a standard crust and a piled meringue topping. No graham cracker crusts with them because the butter in the GC crust works against a successful Meringue topping. Use a standard crust if you wish to use Meringue.

  54. Terry

    #89 Anneke. I am in France and carried Graham cracker crumbs over from the US. Wasted luggage space! There are so many good cookies in the supermarket aisles. Pick one that would go with your pie filling, pulverize them in a food processor and make your own crumbs!

  55. Courtney

    Hi Deb, I only have a 10 inch pie dish. How would you recommend I proceed in making this. Should I just leave the recipe as it is and have a thinner pie or should I make an extra half of the recipe just to be on the safe side? Also sorry to be a pain but would it be possible to add metric measurements. Can’t wait to make this. I have had so many other smitten kitchen successes and I think this will definitely be another! Xxx

  56. cecilia

    This is amazingly similar to a pie my mother made when I was growing up. Other than the crust, she did not bake it at all. I grew up loving SCM and since we referred to it as Lemon Meringue Pie, I did not like the other types of LM Pie. Sh died in 2007 and I can’t ask her, so I’ll just have to make this for comparison sake. Also, hers had a meringue topping. I guess she browned the topping so the pie may have been in the oven a short time. This sounds yummy. Any thoughts about using cream cheese instead of SCM as someone has suggested?

  57. Hmmmm…Smitten…usually you’re fine…but this time…NOPE..
    KEY LIME 2 DIE 4
    1 can sweetened condensed milk
    1 large tub COOL WHIP
    4 LIMES ALONG WITH THEIR ”ZEST”’

    COMBINE ABOVE
    POUR INTO CRUST…TOP WITH BIT MORE COOL WHIP…& ZEST FREEZE..THEN SET OUT FEW MIN B4 EATING…SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO EASY…SOOOOOOO GOOD…

  58. P Adams

    I couldn’t wait! Yesterday I fell to temptation at Whole Foods and bought their key lime tart. I feel better about my low resistance since obviously it’s a January thing. I will feel even better when I make my own. Thanks, Deb, for knowing what we need now – as in, right now.

  59. Deb, There’s nothing better than key lime pie. I know. I used to make them professionally. Here’s my take on key lime pie, an authentic recipe from South Beach, where I cooked for years, and made the pies for a famous South-Beach crab house who I won’t name because they’d deny the story and some of their fame is built on this recipe. The toasted pecans in the crust makes all the difference. Also, lime juice alone misses the true flavor of the key lime. The simple trick to the real key-lime flavor is to use half-and-half juice of Meyer lemons and Persian limes. Key limes are wonderful, but blending the above juices gets the same flavor and juicing key limes is a true pain in the a@@.
    http://jeffskitchen.net/2012/07/26/hello-world/

  60. Gail Goggin

    I have been making key lime pie for years and it is by far my most requested desert. I have always used the version in the old NYTimes cookbook. I do everything as you do but I separately whip the 3 egg whites and fold them into the key lime mixture before pouring into the pie shell. I just made it this weekend and everyone loved it.

  61. Nancy A

    Would you be ok with letting me know where I could get that pie tin you used in the key lime pie recipe? Have never seen one like this and would like to try. Am going to make this for our church ladies luncheon.

  62. Ginger

    How did you know? Fresh Direct is delivering this very morning Key Limes, the rest of the required ingredients AND Stone Crabs. I can’t wait.

  63. I’m a native Floridian and key lime pie might be our state pie! The pre-ground crumbs sound easy but if you’re up for it, use Biscoff cookies for the crust with some ground Macadamia nuts…heaven! Also, I use key limes from my brother’s tree in season (they do in fact make a difference), but Terry’s which I get from a local market, but I think you can buy on line makes a bottled key lime juice…really is good.

  64. deb

    Nancy and others who asked about the pie plate I used — I bought it from Giada DeLaurentis’s line at Target about 5 years ago, I think it was on clearance. ;) Don’t think they have it anymore, but it totally fit the bill for something simple, white, inexpensive and not deep-dish (as the more coveted Emile Henry’s usually are). I think this would fit the bill as well.

    Binnie — I’d think so. I also think you could bake the filling up as little pudding-style pies, too, in ramekins.

    Courtney — You could just make it a little thinner; I don’t think there’s any harm. Metrics coming soon! (Update: have been added!)

    Re, UK and outside-US alternatives to graham crackers — Digestive biscuits work great! I mean, not the ones with chocolate coating. Those you should send directly to me.

    Make your own sweetened condensed milk — I’ve seen a few recipes on the web that look promising, although I’d go for one that doesn’t have anything but milk and sugar in it. You essentially want to reduce it by half at a very low temperature on the stove, so that it becomes thick and almost gooey.

    Cecelia — I don’t think that cream cheese is a natural swap here, or, if you used it, you’d definitely want to add some cream or milk and a good amount of sugar. It’s not really the same taste. If I were going in that direction, I might just make this beloved Key Lime Cheesecake from the archives instead. It’s always a hit.

  65. Suz

    Anneke – I often make a substitute for sweetened condensed milk using 1/2 cup boiling water, 1 cup non-fat powdered milk, 2/3 cup sugar, 3tbs melted butter, and a few drops of vanilla. Buzz in a blender or food processor. It’s an old recipe I found years ago, and it works in most recipes (haven’t tried it in pie, tho!). This key-lime is on the list for the next dessert party…

  66. Deb you summed up my feelings on January perfectly. I’m pretty tired of wearing my long johns. If I cannot bask in sunshine I can eat it in pie form. Very cunning.

  67. Sarah

    Mmmm…I love me some key lime pie! I will definitely try your filling recipe! For anyone counting calories out there, I only 2 TBSPs sugar and 3-4 TBSPs melted butter in my graham cracker crust and I think it’s still delicious. Not that there’s much point to counting when sweetened condensed milk and egg yolks are in the mix. haha. Thanks for the recipe! It brightened my cold day right up. :)

  68. Gayle

    Yum! Key lime pie, a real treat this time of year.
    I never knew about key lime pie until I visited the Blue Heaven restaurant in Key West. They absolutely RUINED me for key lime pie. As my friend dubbed it, “Unf***ing Believable” pie. We’re talking graham cracker crust made with browned butter (I asked) and a mile high and perfectly browned meringue topping. OMG, I’d die and go to heaven (Blue, of course), if I could replicate it. Just looking at photos makes me drool!
    http://myamericanodyssey.com/a-perfect-winters-day-in-key-west-fl/

  69. IsaNM

    This is very similar to what I make, only I’m too lazy to separate eggs so I just use whole eggs, and haven’t noticed any real difference. Also I got tired of graham crackers and started using gingersnaps. There’s something about the lime/ginger combo that is amazing.

  70. Sarah

    Hi Deb,

    Would adding ginger snaps to the graham crust be completely out of place here? I need to use them up, but I don’t want the pie to be too snappy AND tart… Maybe swap half the graham or less? Thoughts?

  71. JP

    If you want to make Key Lime Pie bars, Cook’s Illustrated had a recipe in their July 2006 magazine for that very thing. I have made it and it is wonderful. I agree that one of the only happy things about winter is citrus, that and avocados, here in CA. I think there is never a bad time for pie, though!

  72. Red

    I appreciate the distinction you made between Key limes—which are yellow, not green—and Persian limes. I have never found genuine Key limes in a grocery store.

  73. In Germany, January is a great month–the Christmas lights and trees and plastic decorations go down and the Carnival decorations go up and the parties go on, Winter is not much of anything here (little snow, except in Bavaria and the Alps)
    but the darkness (sun goes up at 8:30 and goes down at 4:30pm) drives everyone to eat, drink and be merry. I make baked fennel with orange juice and hazelnuts, grape salad with pears and shallots, avocado with grapefruit, carrots with razberries and young cabbage stirfry with yogurt, black sesame, shrimps and cumin in lemon juice, and your lime pie recipe inspired me to make an orange meringue, a lemon meringue and your lime pie—thank you for the recipe!

  74. Phoebe in Key West

    Down here in the Keys we have frozen Key Lime Pie on a stick. After your pie is done it is frozen and cut into slices. A round stick is inserted into the back of each slice and dipped into chocolate and refrozen. Yum!!!

  75. Ellen Jefferies

    What claimed to be key lime pie was served at a potluck recently. It didn’t taste like lime at all – vinager, not very good vinager maybe, and it was slimy It was sooooo easy to not eat it which is good for those of us still suffering from post holiday plumpness.

    This recipe is very like the one from Dinosaur BBQ which now has location all over NY state. My husband who flew for UPS raved about it, I bought their cookbook and made it myself, and yesyesyes it is a killer so I am betting this is too. You can also make the filling and make icecream or popsicles from it. Seems like the evaporated milk keeps it from turning into a brick when frozen.

    Being LAZY I buy Pet Ritz frozen pie crusts. They are pretty good, never fail, and would make a fine base for this recipe if one didn’t want to use a graham cracker crust. Or, if one is a chocoholic, make the crust like a graham cracker crust but replacing the graham crackers with home made chocolate wafers that if my memory isn’t too far off was essentially equal parts butter, flour, and cocoa (the very good, expensive kind like pernigotti or valrhona.)

    I am not a fan of Cool Whip. I think you could make a pie out of lime zest, lime juice and cool whip and it would be…lime flavored Cool Whip. For Cool Whip and lime fans, probably a treat, but calling it key lime pie might lead to disappointment for some.

  76. At the end of the crust recipe there is a notation, “16g 2.5T.” Is this a typo, or is something missing from the recipe?

    I intend making this for the bf’s coming-up birthday next week. Won’t that be a nice surprise! Thank you for the recipe, Deb.

  77. Caroline

    HOORAY! Key lime pie was my favorite growing up, and during one of our many moves my mom lost my great grandmother’s recipe. I’ll have to audition this one and see how close it is!

  78. Andrea

    I’m 40 weeks pregnant and have been baking everyday to pass the time! Today this recipe showed up in my email inbox and I went straight to the store for a few ingredients. The pie just came out of the oven and it smells and looks delicious. I can’t wait to slice into it once it cools!

  79. Claudette

    My husband looked at me like I was crazy when I said I was making a similar pie for dessert at Christmas. So glad the cold brings out the need for citrus in all of us. I made the food 52 version because I had saltines leftover from christmas crack (seriously, I did not want to do anything complicated this year, still not sure why) and it was heavenly. Trying yours tomorrow though. Our 6 chickens just started laying, so Im extra excited to do anything with eggs lately!

  80. Jess Broadbent

    Oh Deb, I adore that you added info for your fans on the other side of the world! I’m in Melbourne, Australia, and I just feel so touched that you acknowledged your readers who are sweltering, not freezing!

    I hope things return to a more even temperature for all of us soon, but this pie looks good enough to cheer me up in the meantime!

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  84. Whoa Nellie! Comment spammers are out hard tonight! Key Lime is my favorite favorite, but what I really need is a different crust. The key lime cheesecake at Cheesecake Factory *swoon* has THE. MOST. AMAZING. CRUST. and I can’t figure out what it’s made of. Shortbread? Teddy Grahams? I don’t love graham cracker crust, but if I figure out CF’s crust, I’m in deep trouble.

  85. Ellie

    @Anneke and others in Germany: I’m planning to make this today and i think Milchmädchen will be the best substitute for sweetened condensed milk…rather than trying to add sugar or make your own – I’ll let you know how it turns out!

  86. FOLKS.. I’m Telling you; you have GOT to try THIS VERSION=SOOO MUCH BETTER…AND SOOO MUCH EASIER……!!!!!!!

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    KEY LIME 2 DIE 4
    1 can sweetened condensed milk
    1 large tub COOL WHIP
    4 LIMES ALONG WITH THEIR ”ZEST”’

    COMBINE ABOVE
    POUR INTO CRUST…TOP WITH BIT MORE COOL WHIP…& ZEST FREEZE..THEN SET OUT FEW MIN B4 EATING…SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO EASY…SOOOOOOO GOOD…

  87. nan

    Key Lime is our favorite but if you want a true “island/sun” taste, add coconut to your graham crust or just make a coconut crust with melted butter and flaked coconut…then sing the song…put the lime in the co-co-nut and mix it altogether…

  88. Kathy

    Deb, Thanks for including the links for those of us living in a place with another season. i can read your current post but find links which serve me a bit better (since it is mid-summer in Chile right now!)

  89. Alyssa

    Hi Deb!
    Firstly, I wanted to tell you that since I discovered your blog a few years ago, I have been hooked on using the recipes, tweaking to make them my own, and always enjoyed reading what you have written. And the pictures are beautiful! Yesterday was my birthday, and one item I was wishing for came true ! My family purchased your Smitten Kitchen cookbook for me and I am SO excited to read it and use it ! I work full – time as a pastry chef and I am always looking for inspiration and creative ideas. Your book has been on the top of my list to try. Just so you know !

    And this key lime pie looks fabulous – I look forward to giving it a try :)

    Happy Baking!
    Alyssa

  90. Krista

    I have the same question as Betsy (comment 128). About the “16g 2.5T” after the graham crackers in the crust ingredients list. The crust came out fine with the graham, sugar, salt and butter, and there are no extra steps or ingredients in the directions. But I’m very curious! The only thing I could think of is that is the weight/measurement for one cracker?

    I made the pie this afternoon and it’s amazing! Definitely will be a go-to recipe for the winter blues!

  91. Lizzy

    We went to Joe’s Stone Crab a few weeks ago. Our waiter was terribly pompous, but the pie was divine.

    Lucky for me I live in Vermont where it’s always winter (or so it seems, sometimes). I’ve got a key lime pie chilling out in God’s icebox right now! Sometimes I think of my deck as one big refrigerator. :)

  92. Samantha

    Hi Debs. Love your writing and your recipies. Perfect for a dreary January day. Can you tell us Brits – what is a graham cracker? Is it like our Jacob cracker? Or can you show us a picture of it so I can match it. Many thanks, Samantha

  93. Inessa

    Mine is baking in the oven right now! My filling was a lot more green flecky looking than the photos. I used a microplane zester, should I have used something else? Anyway it tasted delicious, but just curious. Love this blog, BTW, the recipes, the layout, the search function, everything!

  94. Barbara Stevelman

    This is the first time I have commented, although I read your e-mails often and with great pleasure. I’ve given some of my best friends your cookbook.
    I live in Sanibel, Florida, where almost every restaurant serves key lime pie. And while I always enjoy the key line pie, I think I am going to try a variation. I have a Meyer Lemon tree in my garden. Very large variety, as big as oranges, and quite tart. Since you give the amount of juice in volume, I think I can substitute the Meyer Lemon. Comment?

  95. Kim

    I made this last night {first-ever attempt at key lime pie} and it made my kitchen smell like a lime marshmallow cloud on a warm summer day! I let it chill overnight and had it for breakfast this morning — it was delicious! Wonderfully tart and creamy with perfect crunch from the crust. I was also thrown by the “16g 2.5T” that appears in the recipe, but the crust was perfect, and my kids loved crushing the crackers with soup cans in a 1-gallon zip bag. Twelve of the Honey Maid graham crackers made exactly 1 1/2 cups, finely crushed. Thank you so much for the recipe — I followed it exactly, well… except I used a full cup of heavy cream for the topping, please forgive me!

  96. Susan

    I just made this ….I will admit I used five egg yolks, increased the zest and a used a slightly deeper pie pan …it came out great…..

    I didn’t add the whipped cream to the pie….I served it on the side hmmmmmm

  97. Amy M

    Real key lime pie is made ONLY with key limes. If you can’t get fresh limes (and they are difficult to juice) Nellie and Joe’s bottled key lime juice is a fine substitute. And it doesn’t burn your fingers when you crack open the bottle the way juicing the tiny lines will!

  98. Rachel

    Make it FOR your dad? This is so easy my 80 year old kitchen-averse dad makes it for us! As long time key west snow birds we’ve eaten a lot of them at good restaurants down here and made just as many. Love the recipe but the beauty of Key Lime Pie lies in the speed and ease with which once can create something so yummy and then pretend to read book while napping. In my expert opinion – spend the time making the crust as store bought graham cracker crusts taste like nasty cardboard, but eschew any topping whipped cream, merengue or otherwise. Too time consuming, and adds zip to the deliciousness except extra calories that can better be consumers via another piece of pie. Instead, fan a lime half in the center, sprinkle zest, and get back in that pool! That’s Key West.

  99. Yay for citrus! It’s what gets me through winter. The pie looks luscious and very similar to the recipe that I use. I’ve made it with Key Limes, but thought it wasn’t worth the extra cost OR effort. The ones I had were expensive, small and full of seeds and tasted the same as it did with Persian limes.

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    Dear Deb
    I love your blog and recipes, I have tried many and I always trust them! (And I do own your cookbook!) It´s so great you write reasons for doing this versus that..
    I´m going to make this lime pie now – thanks so much for your very inspiring blog!

  102. I’ve made many a lemon meringue pie, but I’ve never tried making a key lime pie. I think it’s high time I get on that. This one looks like a great first try!

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  104. Deb, I just made this today and it was so easy and amazing! Too easy, actually. Dangerously easy. The filling was a tad bitter, but I may have gone overboard on the lime zest. Next time, I’ll go easy. Thanks for sharing this yummy dessert!

  105. Vickie S.

    I lived in the Keys (not that it makes any difference!) for many years, and loved making key lime pie. My recipe is similar to yours. I also saw that recipe for key lime cheesecake in the magazine man years ago and have made it dozens of times; it’s a terrific recipe. I also have one for key lime cake! Thanks for the recipe!

  106. june

    I just made this yesterday and its fantastic. Yes you can make one sans egg yolk and no need to bake it twice and that one tastes good as well, but this one feels so homey. The only modification I made was using some meyer lemon and coconut cookies (from Trader Joe’s) in the crust, also tossed in some unsweetened coconut flakes, because why not??— Key limes are such a pain to juice but the result is worth the sting. Thank you Deb for another great recipe. I make your pear bread and coconut bread every other week, there’s always one of your recipes sitting on my table for a sweet pick me up. Thank you for everything that you do and please do not change your site, i think the layout is perfect.

  107. Deb, this looks fantastic! Can I remove the pie from the dish after the final bake? I’ve always had difficulty making a graham crust without it falling apart on me, not sure how you do it.

  108. Gail

    Key lime pie! One of my favorite mid-winter cures. Also, a reason to eat graham cracker crust, which I could eat with a spoon before pressing it into that pie plate. Nom nom. That reminds me – I need to check out your graham cracker crumble things – that recipe had me drooling. :)

  109. Holy spam comments, Batman! And “Florida 1” – enough with the freaking cool whip. Ick.

    #152 – Samantha – Graham crackers aren’t similar to Jacob’s. They are slightly sweet. I’d use something like a plain digestive biscuit or some Ginger Nuts. (I think a Ginger Nut crust would be damn delicious!).

    Key Lime Pie is my favorite pie in the whole wide world. I love you, Deb.

  110. I’ve never tried key lime pie, think it’s an American thing, and it looks amazing, love zingy stuff! I will just need to work out a replacement for sugar in the recipe :)

    zx

  111. Liz S.

    Deb,
    Looks delish – as all of your creations do!
    And yes, I love the sweetened condensed milk – the effect on my waistline, not so much. I remember back in the day one of our neighbors taking a can of the stuff, removing the label and putting it in a pot of water boiling on the stove for an hour or more, and it made the most wonderful caramel frosting. Have you ever heard of this?

  112. Annie

    @Liz S, that’s dulce de leche, a Latin American treat. And agree, it’s totally yummy. I go the safer route, empty the milk into a mason jar, cover with water, and cook all day in the slow cooker. No worries about explosions or plastic lining (BPA?) in the cans.

  113. Liz S.

    @Annie, thanks – all the online references I found call it a soft caramel. I just remember a friend of our family’s used to make it – in the early 1970s, before anyone cared about BPAs – and she used it to frost cakes – not sure if she cooled and whipped it first or just poured it over somewhat warm. As far as I know, if you keep the can completely submerged at all times, there is no danger of explosion. But the mason jar and slow cooker sound like a healthier alternative.

  114. JP

    @Frances #182, there is no way to remove a graham cracker crust from the pie plate in one piece. It never actually solidifies into a single crust. It is always tender and crumbly, part of its charm. Served slice, by slice it is delicious but can only be served that way. So it is not you…no worries!

  115. Anonymous

    For the person who asked about regular pie crust (@Claire): (not like you will see this) I grew up in southern FL and that’s the only way I ever had it, honestly. I never had it with a graham cracker crust until I came up north and thought “what the heck is this?”

  116. Annabel

    Key Lime is one of my most favourite desserts, yet I’ve never attempted to make one. Didn’t realise it was so easy…I hope!

  117. Janet in nc

    Have baked this twice since posted, soooo good, can hardly wait for it to chill, another regular fave to bake along with your coconut bread and raspberry coffeecake *yum*.

  118. Living in south TX, we get bags of key limes for a couple of dollars & squeeze them with a garlic press. Makes quick work of these little buggers!!

    The best crust for key lime pie I ever had was a pecan crust in a small Port Aransas, TX, restaurant. After hunting for some time, I finally found a good pecan crust recipe & have used it several times, including my lemon meringue pie. Pecans are grown all around us and again are pretty inexpensive. The pecan crust with a chocolate pudding pie is truly yummy!

  119. Eleora

    Hi Deb,

    I was craving for Key Lime pie when your post came up and I thought the universe sent me a massive go ahead signal to make it.

    I am in Australia where we do not have graham crackers, so I substituted for Digestive Biscuits which is probably why the crust was leaking melted butter! and lots of it. I think next time I will add just a knob of butter, the digestive biscuits probably have a lot more oil in it than graham crackers.
    I also made a meringue top, baked it after letting the filling cool “slightly” it worked out really well. (used 3 egg whites and 1/2 cup of caster sugar with a pinch of salt, then baked at 180 degree Celsius for 10 minutes).

    It was beautiful, thank you! :D

  120. Anna

    I made this yesterday exactly as written, and it was so good and so easy. So good, in fact, that unbeknownst to me, my kids ate all the leftovers for breakfast today and there is none left for me for a mid afternoon snack :( Thank you! Will definitely be bookmarking this (I think 50% of my bookmarked recipes are SK recipes)

  121. Patryce

    I too had been thinking about key lime pie, and had bought a cheapie pre-made graham cracker crust, had part of a bottle of Nellie and Joe’s key lime juice in the fridge, and the nitrous oxide cream whipper had a good bit left in it, so it was way easy. A few drops of lime oil subbed nicely for the zest. A little bottle seems expensive but lasts an awfully long time in the fridge since it’s used a 1/4 t at a time.

    Might have been even better with all the fresh ingredients, but it really hit the spot. Apparently the original recipes were very much a pantry-based thing, other than the limes which grew like crazy, b/c there was very little fresh milk to be had in the Keys, so sweetened condensed and evaporated were used for a lot of things.

    Of all the things I miss about living in Florida, Key lime pie, stone crabs, and conch chowder have to top the list!

  122. Anna

    I swapped out the limes with Meyer lemons (since that’s what I had lying around) and whipped up the egg whites into a meringue. Basically, the best lemon meringue pie I’ve ever made (and so easy!). Thanks Deb!

  123. Tex

    Thanks for sharing this recipe with all of your followers. This is one of my son’s favorite desserts. Too bad he’s in S Korea until this July since I’m going to try it this weekend. But it will be a good test drive for me.

    I’m curious how this might work in mini pie pans. I just found 6 of them, unopened from my local Big Lots store (I’m guessing they must have been purchased for some school project from long long ago). Guess I’ll make your recipe and see how many mini pans I can fill with your recipe. And, I’ll have to guess on bake times, although, I’m hoping its basically the same as with the 9″ pie dish.

  124. Inessa

    So, the pie turned out DELICIOUS. Like really truly amazing. But the green zest bits got a bit discolored in the filling, into a slightly yucky looking darker green color. Did anyone else have this problem? Is there a way to zest finer than a microplane grater?

  125. deb

    Frances, JP — While I’ve never had luck fully unmolding a graham pie crust, the one I used here was the most solid I’ve made — I think the prebaking is magic, and will do this going forward — and had no trouble removing slices. I think a bigger issue unmolding the whole pie is that inevitably there will be a spot where the crumbs were a little thinner and maybe some filling came through. You might have some luck pressing the crust into a 9-inch springform, just an inch up the sides, and baking the pie in there. The sides should come off with a little loosening. But it won’t be traditionally pie-shaped.

  126. june

    I think the only way to successfully remove a graham crust is to use an aluminum pie pan and cut “tabs” to release. I used to just cut straight through the aluminum pan for clean serving peices.

  127. Susan in Peckham

    Just made this as per recipe (with digestives and a couple ginger nut) and am waiting for it too cool . Easy peasy and the whole house smells lovely :)

  128. LG

    Key Lime Pie is ONLY made with key limes. Pie that is made with persian limes is simply Lime Pie. There is a HUGE difference. Key Limes taste completely different from Persian Limes. Once you’ve tasted the difference, you’ll never mistake the two again.

  129. Andrea

    Just made this key lime pie for dinner guests and guests said it was some of the best they had. I never knew it was so easy. Thank you.

  130. Sara

    I made this pie on Friday for my book club and it was quite a success. That said, Deb means it when she says the whipped cream needs to set for at least a few hours…I lost patience and only let mine set for 2 hours and each slice kind of fell apart. If I were to do it again, I would make this pie at least 8 hours in advance and would serve the whipped cream in a bowl on the side so that my guests could dollop at will! Overall, great recipe, perfect tartness. My friends also really loved the consistency of the graham cracker crust. Loved the measuring cup technique to press it into the pie dish!

  131. Reena

    I made this yesterday. It was my first attempt at making a key lime pie from scratch. Holy Cow it was yummy!!!!! My kids loved making it with me too, but they both thought the final product was a bit too tart for them. My husband and I just ate their servings, too!!! More for us!! YAY! Also was my first time making “real” whipped cream! Woo-hoo!!! Now I can’t wait to have some more tonight…

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  134. Rebecca

    Have you tried using Nilla Wafers instead of graham crackers? I REALLY like them in a key lime pie crust. In case you were wondering =)

  135. Kathi

    I have the same issue/question as Inessa – Is there a way to zest finer than a microplane grater? When I made this, you could very much still see the zest in the filling. It tasted great, but I’m wondering how you get the zest to “disappear” in the filling.

  136. cecilia

    I just ate and drank my way through a Royal Caribbean Cruise (otherwise known as just returned from a cruise). Key lime pie that sounds like this one was an option for desert one night. It was very popular and oh so delicious!

  137. deb

    Zest — I’m not sure there is something more fine than a microplane. I suppose you could mince it a bit with a knife after grating. Or, if you really don’t like the zest threads running through you filling, you could let them sit in the batter for a little while before straining them out, that way, you keep some of the flavor from the oils, which I find more dynamic than that from lime juice.

    Nilla wafers — No, I haven’t tried them. I should. Unrelated, I tried to make them homemade this week — they were tasty, but didn’t look anything like the originals. Back to the drawing board!

  138. Rebecca

    I brought home key limes on Saturday and made this pie. Except I didn’t read the instructions carefully and didn’t whip the egg yolks. I just whisked them into the condensed milk and zest, and then added the lime juice. It came out delicious and satiny smooth, and left me wondering if whipping the egg yolks adds anything to the recipe.

  139. Cassie B

    I have made and loved over 50 of your recipes, but am so terrible at commenting. However, this pie has promoted me to do so. After three feet of snow, and learning this morning that the city of Boston “advised against” taking the subway line I use to commute, I ran (trudged) to the market at 7:30 AM to buy supplies to make it while working from home.
    I followed the recipe as written using four yolks and four Persian limes – the only change I made was adding a glug of cointreau to the topping for that little hint of orange. I just tried my first piece and once again, I am smitten!

  140. I made this over the weekend, along with a pot of the black bean soup from the past recipies link at the bottom of the post. The soup was amazing by the way! I loved the texture of the pie, but I think maybe a little less zest – mine came out a bit bitter-tasting – maybe it was just my limes (used persian limes)?

  141. Molly

    I am a key lime pie lover, but never had a go-to recipe…until now. This recipe has allowed me to produce the best pie of my entire life! I think what really made the difference was using my electric mixer for 5 min on the yolks and 3 minutes after adding the SACM. Other recipes have just suggested whisking by hand. I would have never thought to do the yolks for a full 5 minutes either…it seemed long. However, the volume of this filling actually filled my crust where previous recipes have been pretty low in the pan, so I guess mixing is the key!

    We are lucky to have fresh key limes in Vancouver! The element of bitterness that they provide is hard to replace.

    I opted to use 4 egg yolks and 2/3 cup fresh key lime juice. Perfect! Using this recipe for the rest of my life!

  142. Vicki

    Just a follow up I did make this using 5 inch tart pans, made 5 little tarts, SO GOOD the birthday boy declared that it was the best key lime pie he ever had – agreed!
    I put some of the tarts in the freezer so we would have eaten a whole pie just the two of us but not really working we just keep going back to
    The freezer!

  143. Ioana

    Hi! I’m from Romania. I tried key lime pie when I visit San Antonio. I tried to make home your recipe and it’s great. Thank you very much.

  144. Krista

    I made these into mini bites and was able to make 48 minis using the standard mini muffin tin and liners. I filled it 1/3 full of crumb and then topped almost fully with pie. I reduced baking times to 7 minutes each.

  145. Ayo

    I made this for a baby shower and it was a hit! Creamy, tangy, light and with a great crust. I added some toasted pecans and coconut to the crust for a little extra flavor as the crust is always my favorite part. I made it the night before I needed it and the pie/topping set well together for slices that stayed intact for serving. Thanks for the recipe!

  146. MoodyJames

    Greetings,

    Would you be so kind as to tell me what the second line of the crust ingredients represents? “16g 2.5T”

    Thx a million!

  147. Golda

    I made this a few weeks ago and it was delicious! My only problem was getting slices out of my pie pan – the graham crackers crumbs were intent on sticking! I am planning to make it again for my mom’s birthday and I was thinking of trying this in a 9-inch tart pan, the kind where you can remove the bottom piece; mine is non-stick, and usually cracker crusts come out pretty well. Would this pie work that way? Or am I better off sticking to a regular pie pan? Thank you Deb!

    1. deb

      Golda — Try buttering your pie dish first next time. I didn’t find I needed it, but it might help with your pan. A tart pan could work too, but will hold less. You might have enough for up to 1.5 tarts.

  148. Meg

    I finally made this today, had a minor disaster with the crust. My first attempt I just used the weights given and in the oven it was graham crumb soup. It didn’t stay formed at all. No idea if it was the no name store brand graham crumbs I used, but I measured out 1.5 cups and for me it weighed 235g. Next time I’ll maybe buy the Honey Maid crumbs and see if that makes a difference, or buy the crackers and crush them. I didn’t think it would matter as I’ve used that store brand chocolate crumbs for the Brownie Mosaic Cheesecake with no issues. Second attempt worked better (although still seemed like there was a bit much butter), and the finished pie is delicious, totally worth juicing 16 tiny limes (12 was just over half a cup of juice). Didn’t bother with the whipped cream on top, just had another piece of pie!

  149. Deb – Just made this tonight for my dinner party in celebration of Pi Day. Not a crumb was left (I know; I licked the pie plate). Thank you for an easy pi(esy) recipe!

  150. This is such a great recipe! Have made it twice now. Once for a potluck, but it was all gone before I had a chance to try it. So I made it again yesterday (yep, for pi day) and LOVED it. The only thing I have to mention about the recipe is that you can easily mix the crust ingredients right in the pie plate to save yourself a bowl to wash.

  151. sharlene

    Made two pies last night with my 20-year-old daughter (finally she wants to learn how to cook!). Loved this recipe, but wanted to mention two things: 1) we ended up needing 5 or 6 limes to get enough juice, and 2) one of the pies was a bit bitter because we either used too much zest or got some of the white pith of the lime in there, so be careful. I don’t think it’s necessarily the more the merrier with the zest-use just the amount given in the recipe. This recipe is definitely a keeper.

  152. Try this using biscoff cookies instead of graham crackers for the crust – so delish. Also have added a bit of the whip cream and folded it into the pie filling. It’s delicious frozen on a hot summer day, too :-)

  153. DanIelle S

    I never take the time to post comments online and I realize there are already tons of folks commenting here, but I have to say this: this is the best damn pie I have ever had. I am not much of a baker and, aside from the effort to squeeze so many tiny key limes, the recipe was dead easy. AND HOLY MOLY IT IS SO FREAKING GOOD. Every bite my bf and I take, one of us marvels out loud at how delicious it is. Thank you, Smitten Kitchen!

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  155. This pie is chilling in my fridge right now – looking SO forward to digging in tonight! :-D thanks for another perfect (I’m assuming) recipe!!!

  156. Max

    This pie is fantastic, we made it for my birthday & I’ve been raving about it since. I feel like – given the current heat – you might like a twist I made on it. Our local ice cream place makes Key Lime Pie ice cream as a flavor of the month this time of year (with bits of crust and everything!) so for Memorial Day we made Key Lime Pie Ice Cream Sandwiches. Just used store-bought graham crackers as the base and they turned out really well.

    It just seemed like the kind of thing we thought you might like, thanks for running such a great blog!

  157. Nanci

    I just made this yesterday to serve to my bookclub gals tonight. Perfect in the summer heat. I used about 16 key limes. I’m not sure why all these others here are complaining about juicing the key limes. I used my handheld metal juicer and it couldn’t have been easier! Probably much easier than a reamer. But really worth it if you want to call it a true key lime pie. The filling went together in a snap and I was lazy and bought a store made crust. Thank you for the simple recipe.

  158. Kabir

    Hello there,
    I need help with my lime pie. I usually follow the recipe from “Tea with Bea”, which calls for 1.5 can of condensed milk and 8 yolks, then bake for 25 min. However the pies I make are always very temperamental – sometimes they just doesn’t set. Today for example it was in the oven for over 1.5 hours until I got fed up, and it’s still liquid in the middle. Has anyone had a similar experience? It actually always takes a long time; sometimes by the time it’s set, it’s dark brown on top and the crust around it is quite burnt!

  159. deb

    Kabir — It’s hard for me to troubleshoot a recipe I haven’t made. I feel strongly, however, that you will love this one and that it will set perfectly in the oven.

  160. Kabir

    You were right! We made it according to your recipe and it came out light, fluffy, nicely set and perfect. Needed to bake it for 40 min but it didn’t brown on top like the other one did. Thanks a lot! :)

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  163. Karen Sullivan

    Deb – you may be having your baby right now, but when you come back I hope you read that I think you are a genius! I make key lime pie every year for my colleague’s birthday. Since I love all your recipes, I decided to try yours. My life is changed by the beating of the egg yolks. Everyone says it’s the best I ever made, and I agree. You are making me famous among my friends for birthday cakes, and now I believe this is a legendary key lime pie!

  164. Cheryl

    Deb, I LOVE this recipe and have made it several times… I am hoping to make some for the rehearsal dinner I am having for my son’s wedding next week. Have you ever frozen them and if so did that work?

  165. Mandie

    I made this for a friend’s birthday and it turned out amazing! And it is pretty easy. I used key limes and it was very tart (perfect)! Thanks for the wonderful recipe. I will definitely use it again!

  166. Naomi

    Deb, you are the QUEEN! Lovely Husband and I read your recipes out loud to each other in the evenings through this past (long, cold) winter, and nearly every page in your cookbook is bookmarked. What a feast — and that’s before we’ve even started cooking. Thank you, and Mazel Tov!

    Made this recipe for friends earlier this summer, and it’s now my go-to Key Lime Pie recipe. If I wanted to add some of the goodness of cream cheese, without going all the way over to making cheesecake, could I just add maybe 4 oz. of softened cream cheese to the filling here, ramping up the quantity of lime a little, as well? Do you think that a) that could work, and b) it would need a longer bake time?

    All good wishes to you and yours. :-)

  167. I made a key lime pie following this recipe for when a few of my friends were visiting and they were blown away! Easily one of my favorite go-to dessert recipes from now on, thanks for sharing :)

  168. Thank you! The best, and I mean the best, Key Lime pie we’ve ever eaten. It’s the way you beat the eggs, then the sweetened condensed milk, then the limes that made the difference. Oh, and the lime rind in the eggs! Once, when we were in the Florida Keys, I made a Key Lime pie a day for our family. And I’ve eaten them everywhere. This blew them all away. It’s the details that made all the difference: the pinch of salt, the method for mixing, the balance of ingredients. I held back some sugar in the whipped cream and used some vanilla, too. But the little curls of rind on top were the best.

  169. Stephanie

    Just made this for a co worker who is from North Carolina and misses pie. Told me key lime was his favorite. So I visited your blog because you never let down. I brought my key limes from Fresh Direct. He absolutely loved it. Did tweak out a lil bit by adding roasted almonds which I pulverized to the crust and I topped with the whipped cream and toasted coconut. Thanks again, love from NYC (i do have a photo but don’t know how to share it on here. Thank you again I love love love your blog.

  170. Louise

    Last week we ate half the pie so I froze the other half whipped cream and all. Unexpected company tonight. Frozen key lime pie! Fabulous!

  171. Camden Lenore

    This recipe is great! Just made this today, the taste and texture are perfect! Any tips on getting the crust to “not” stick to the pie dish? I used a ceramic dish as well.

    Thanks!

  172. Lena H

    I had never tasted key lime pie, let alone made it before yesterday, and can’t help thinking “What was I waiting for?” I love citrusy desserts and this one might just be my new favorite :) Only adjustment was omitting the sugar in the crust because I thought the digestive biscuits were plenty sweet without and used regular limes (key limes in Denmark? Not so much). Will definitely be making again :)

  173. Gloucester

    I made this with digestives, following the suggestion to reduce butter (I opted for 4 TBs), and chose the 5-egg yolk option! Would not change a thing next time round and there will be a next time soon! Thank you!

  174. Jamie L

    Oh my goodness, to die for!! Do you know if I could use premade mini graham cracker pies for this recipe? I would hate to deviate from your recipe, but am in a bit of a jam with time. I would love to use the filling, just not sure this time around I could make the recipe in full.

    In which case, if I could use mini graham cracker pies, how long would I bake the crust for? Also, how long would I then bake the filling for, since they’re smaller pies? Thank you so much and again this looks absolutely amazing!

    1. deb

      Jamie — I don’t see why not. I’m not sure if premade ones are considered pre-baked as well. I would check the directions they come with. If it feels soft, however, there’s little harm in giving the a brief run in the oven, I find it melts the sugar a bit and gets the crumbs to glue together more crisply.

  175. I needed a favor from one of my sons and he told me, with that melt your mother’s heart smile, he would do it if I would make key lime pie for Thanksgiving. That led me to your website and this wonderful recipe! There is very little left and I thought there was going to be a fight over the leftovers. This turned out great, it looked exactly like the picture which is a goal that I don’t always meet as a cook. A friend asked me for the recipe that I was going to use but I never share a recipe until I have tried it. I will be sending her your way. Thanks for a great recipe that I sense will become a tradition in our family.

  176. Lisa

    Just made this with key limes (lucky enough to find them!), and everyone that had it asked for seconds and more to take home. We are all big foodies here. Wonderful recipe, crust, filling and all. Did not last more than a day cause we polished it all off!

  177. JP

    First–this is totally delicious! As good as I’ve tasted anywhere. So happy to have found the recipe.

    Second…there seems to be a bunch of “spammy” posts on here (see above just a couple weeks ago)….these are really annoying when all you wan to see are review of a recipe. Is there any way for us to flag them so they can be removed? Spam on a cooking site is really annoying and bugs me. Argh!

    Again–great recipe!

  178. Holly

    Really terrific recipe! I made it using meyer lemons instead of key limes (they’re what I had in the house). It wasn’t as tart as the key limes would have made it, but it was still excellent!

  179. Aaron

    Just a wanted to let you know there are still a couple spammy messeges posted up 6, 7, and 8 spots above this one.

    Also, really like the layout of this recipe and hope to try it soon(found while looking for lime pie recipe). And I really like that juicer and the idea of juicing our own fruit plus the pie plate you used for your pie!

    Thanks for sharing!

  180. Elizabeth

    Hi Deb – Just made yesterday with persian limes, and it was gorgeous and tasted fantastic!! However, my crust completely stuck to the bottom of the pie and I couldn’t get a clean slice. Should there be a step to butter the pie plate or something else I could have done? My guests still liked their plates, literally!

  181. Melissa

    I made this for a Pi day party and it was the hit of the whole party! It was completely finished and everyone was raving! I’ve always loved key lime pie, but have never made it before. It was so easy! The filling was perfectly tart, everyone complimented how it was the perfect balance of tart and sweet . The whipped cream was also delicious! Thanks so much!

  182. Sara

    Made this last weekend when friends were coming over for dinner. It was easy and delicious! My husband, who doesn’t care for key lime pie helped himself to seconds! This recipe is definitely a keeper!

  183. Alex

    I made this tonight with a fe adjustments:

    – I was working with small (large marble size) key limes so I needed about 24 to get even close to 2/3 of a cup of juice. To bridge the gap I added the juice of a very ripe meyer lemon (oh the hardship! ;) ).
    – In the future, I would add toasted pecans to the graham cracker crust mix just for a slightly less sweet flavor as my family’s tastes tend to skew that way.
    – One tablespoon of sugar in the heavy whipping cream was fine, but I actually might omit it next time.
    – Don’t be afraid if the pie doesn’t really look set after 10 minutes in the oven, it is! Just let it sit for AT LEAST 30 minutes before adding the topping and then, ideally, several hours in the fridge before slicing.

    This was a HUGE hit and someone even suggested selling slices door to door ;). Such a winner of a recipe! Thank you, as always!

  184. Rochelle Eissenstat

    (1) Not being a native of the Keys, maybe I’m out of line writing this comment, BUT….:-)
    I’d read that due to limited appliances like ovens in the olden days in the Keys plus the rarity of Salmonella infected eggs back then, the original Key Lime Pie was not baked! You mixed up the filling ingredients, poured them into the crust, and put the pie in tho the ice box to set. Think of it as a kind of dessert ceviche, in which the acidic lime juice “cooked” the egg and SCM mixture. This doesn’t explain how the pie crust got baked of course. What do “Conchs” say?
    (2) for the people with dairy problems, an excellent sub for SCM is home made Sweetened Condensed COCONUT Milk! I first saw this made in Viet Nam. I’ve made it myself since then. You need 28 ounces (2 cans) of plain coconut milk and 1/2 cup of white sugar, a pinch of table salt, and if you like, 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla. Simmer this mixture in a nonstick pot, stirring until the mixture cooks down to 14 ounces in volume and assumes the thickness of the real SCM. You must watch it and keep stirring to prevent burning on the bottom.

  185. Rochelle Eissenstat

    I should have added – if you keep cooking the coconut SCM you will get a dairy free dulce de Leche!

  186. Tiberius

    My wife’s favorite pie is Key Lime, so my 10 year-old daughter and I made her this recipe today for Mothers’ Day. Made it exactly to recipe and it turned out perfectly. Needless to say it was a big hit and got raves from the woman of honor (and us). Great recipe, nice balance of sweet and tart. So silky and creamy but set up nicely. Kudos! And thank you!

  187. Rob

    A few notes from a Floridian who has made this recipe. Suggesting that Persian limes may be substituted for Key limes borders on sacrilege. These two citrus fruits are completely different animals. If you can’t get Key limes, a more reasonable substitute can be had by using the juice from half Persian limes and half lemons, but the result will still be different.

    Also, anyone considering using anything but sweetened condensed milk is committing sacrilege. Key Lime Pie was invented to use condensed milk not long after Gail Borden invented it. Fresh milk was generally unavailable in the Keys prior to the construction of the Overseas Highway in the 1930s and SCM was considered a luxury item. A notable exception is if you are making frozen key lime pie, which involves the use of softened vanilla ice cream.

  188. Laura

    I’m making this for Father’s Day and while I’ve made many cakes and cookies, I’ve never made a pie. When you first beat the eggs and zest if using a stand mixer, do you use the wisk attachment? Thanks!

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  190. Chelsea

    I made this for the 4th of July. Came out awesome! I added a tablespoon of sour cream to the cream to help the whipped cream hold

  191. Bridgit

    Just made this, used 4 egg yolks since I needed whites to make a pavlova. Delicious. The crust did not go as planned: I had a box of graham crackers, but ended up being empty !?!? so I punted with some old Annie’s bunny cookies that my kids didn’t like. Went to mix in the butter and realized they were rancid, so I totally changed course: ~130g of almond meal, ~35 g whole wheat flour and a pinch of cinnamon and ginger with the butter (but I was using 1/2 butter 1/2 coconut oil). To make sure it bound properly, I added 1T egg white. This was based on a vague recollection of a GF pie crust my mom made over a decade ago… it turned out great. Frankly, the crust was so good, I want to make almond shortbread cookies based on it. I made sure to whip the filling as directed and the texture was amazing. Thanks!

  192. Caroline Gaudy

    You do know that this is NOT key lime pie, right?
    I totally agree with Rob, above.
    When you use actual key limes the taste is completely different.
    Key limes are small, yellow-ish, round fruit, green on the inside, but the
    juice and the resultant pie are yellow.
    It’s ok to call this a lime pie, but not a key lime pie. If you doubt this, make one this way and one with real key lime juice, fresh makes a difference, and taste both. Hope you’ll update the name!

  193. Hi!
    I’m pregnant and I was wondering if you think the egg yolks are cooked enough after 10 minutes in the oven in order to be safe enough for me to eat?! Hoping you will say yes :) :) Craving this right now :)
    xx

    1. deb

      I’m not an expert but I think so. Also, FWIW, I was very pregnant when I made this and had no qualms about eating it, then again, I was definitely a slacker with the rules that time around.

  194. lil

    pretty good, even better after the flavors meld for a few days. maybe not as good as joe’s, but still plate-licking good. i would probably add an extra yolk next time to make creamier. thanks for another winner deb!

  195. Chilling this pie after making it is essential. I didn’t vary the recipe aside from using a store bought graham cracker crust. Got rave reviews from my kids so I’d make this one again.

  196. Erin

    I had made the “Joe’s Stone Crab” key lime pie many many times in the past few years and then I lost the recipe….! Then I was searching your website and found your recipe and saw that you were referencing the same recipe…
    I had been craving that “citrus” flavour and could not find it anywhere…..
    I just made this recipe and it turned out perfectly! I had not added the whipped cream before and will do when I am entertaining…
    Thank you!!! I will also be trying some of your peach recipes….!
    Erin :)

  197. Ginette Dean

    Hi Deb-

    Love your site and your book. This pie is my favorite. Wondering if you have ever made it in small tart shells and how you would advise adjusting baking time.

    Thanks,
    Ginette

    1. deb

      I haven’t done this one in small tart shells but it never hurts to start checking at right past the halfway point in the full baking time. More times than not, even when halved, things take closer to the full cooking time than we’d guess.

  198. marilyn

    Can’t find the print icon, put I just selected area and printed it, worked out fine. Thanks for all your wonderful recipes Deb! Am making this one Sunday for my DIL’s birthday.